Lucero. Gothic Theatre. 12.29.14

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Lucero / Drag The River. The Gothic Theatre. Englewood, Colorado. 12.29.14

Making small talk about the weather is something people do in uncomfortable situations where no other common ground can be found, but when you’re standing outside in subzero temperatures it’s the elephant that refuses to be ignored. As Gary Lee (of Gary Lee’s Motor Club and Grub) was educating Ben Nichols on the finer points of Denver/Carolina BBQ, the conversation kept coming back to the weather. “It’s brutal,” I agreed with Ben when he mentioned it again, “you know it’s brutal when even people from Colorado say it’s brutal.” We repeated the same thing a few times and then the conversation came to an end because the warmth of the crowd and the sounds of Drag The River were calling from inside. But that wasn’t the end of it. The weather would play a major role in Lucero’s set on the first of a three-night stretch at the Gothic Theatre. Ben used the stage as a pulpit to preach the word of winter. Before even a note of music was played we were thanked for coming out in the Arctic cold, but not before he threw a slight jab at those who assured him it would be in the 50’s in Denver in December. Everything he said was justified. He’s not just some spoiled Southern boy who can’t handle a little cold, it was brutal. Fucking brutal. But when life gives Lucero ice and snow, Lucero drinks whiskey and plays slow sad songs. And there is nothing better than whiskey, and slow sad songs, on a brutal night in Denver.

The set started out as your typical Lucero show circa-2014, minus the horn section. The boys kicked things off with the “Downtown Intro”, which led into “On My Way Downtown” and then over to meet the sweet girl by the “Chain Link Fence”. “Nights Like These” found the capacity(?) crowd giving Ben’s voice a run for its money, but he shut them up real quick by pulling “In Lonesome Times” out of the attic. It was after that oldie that Ben made his intentions clear. The weather had become his muse and he was going to follow that frigid bitch into the bottle…

Ya’ll might as well go home now, it’s just gonna get slower and sadder. It’s a Monday night and it’s jackass shit weather outside, so I can get as slow or sad as I want.

Those words were music to my ears. Having seen Lucero over a dozen times over the years, I was ready for a piano and whiskey-driven set. What followed was better than anything I could have hoped for. “Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble”, “Colorado Girl”, four tracks from Lucero, “The Last Pale Light in the West”, “Mom” and “The War” — all slow burners with an audience so attentive you could hear the ice clinking around in Ben’s glass.

It wasn’t all tears in your beer though. “Hate and Jealousy” turned the room inside out and “Tears Don’t Matter Much” flipped that shit sideways. Every Lucero show I have seen in Denver has felt like a family affair, but something about last night felt even more personal. It was literally one of the best Lucero shows I have ever seen….and that’s saying something!

There are still tickets available for the next two nights, as Ben made very clear, and the songs will differ from night to night. “I might get drunker, I might be more sober. It might be better, it might be worse.” Not exactly amazing salesmen, Ben and the band did make one thing perfectly clear last night…they can do no wrong. They can bring the house down with a rock show, or they can bring the house down with introspective, slow sad songs. It was said best when Jon Snodgrass was on stage with the band during “Tears Don’t Matter Much” — “We’ve been doing this for so long we can pretty much do whatever the fuck we want. We are never going to be rich or famous. We just love playing with our friends.

The two hour set was capped with a heartfelt “Fistful of Tears”. And then Ben stepped off the stage, into the audience and straight to the bar for another bourbon with his friends.

Setlist:
Downtown (Intro)
On My Way Downtown
Chain Link Fence
Nights Like These
In Lonesome Times
Kiss The Bottle
Women & Work
Texas & Tennessee
Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble?
Colorado Girl
Little Silver Heart
It Gets the Worst at Night
Like Lightning
It May Be Too Late
Goodbye Again
Tonight Ain’t Gonna Be Good
Banks of the Arkansas
All Sewn Up
Last Pale Light in the West
Mom
The War
Hate and Jealousy
Bikeriders
Tears Don’t Matter Much

Fistful of Tears

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Setlist